Posted by: cindystephenson | August 2, 2008

Nine Ways to Use Google Reader and Save Time

If you are interested in reading certain blogs on a regular basis, one option that will save you a lot of time is to subscribe to them via Google Reader. Google Reader is a free web-based reader for RSS feeds. In this post, I list nine reasons why I think using Google Reader will save you time.

1. It’s easy to find and subscribe to blogs

Google Reader can take any old web site URL and find the RSS feed on it’s own. If you’re not sure the exact URL, no worries, Google has a search directory and will let you search for it using keywords. It also recommends other blogs you might be interested in on the same topic.

2. It’s easy to organize your subscriptions

You can organize your subscriptions into multiple folders, a single folder or none at all. You can also organize individual posts using tags. To add a tag to the item you’re viewing, click the Add tags link at the end of the article. You can also star posts for future reference. The Reader Help Centre  has clear instructions on how to do these.

3. You can share your favourite articles or posts

Google Reader automatically creates a public page for any items that you mark as “shared”. (You can also create public pages for any items you have starred or tagged.) Your public page is viewable to anyone who knows its URL. Tell your friends and co-workers and they can subscribe to your shared feed.

Another way to share is by clicking the email button at the bottom of each article. That allows you to send that article to a specific person.

4. You can let others do the work for you

Just as people can read your shared feeds, you can subscribe to and read what others have shared. If there’s somebody whose opinion you value, why not subscribe to their shared feed. I subscribe to Steve Rubel’s.

5. You can quickly scan your post headlines

You can view your posts in two different ways: list view and expanded view. The list view option gives you the post headline and the first few words – as much as will fit on one line. The expanded view gives you the entire post. Using the list view option enables you to quickly scroll through the headings of your post and choose those you want to read, so they don’t pile up. (For blog writers, it points to the need for a succinct title that lets the reader know what your post is about as they scan.)

6. You can read your posts off line using Google Gears

If you’re on the road without access to the internet, you can download and install Google Gears. That will let you download the latest feeds from your blogs. It will sync up once you go back online.

7. You can use lots of keyboard shortcuts

Google Reader has a lot of keyboard shortcuts you can use to avoid moving your hand back and forth between your keyboard and mouse. Shift +? will give you a list of all the shortcuts. They’re worth trying out, as it’ll enable you to quickly scroll through one hundred or more posts quite easily.

8. You can manage your feeds using “trends”

Using the “trends” feature, you can manage your feeds and keep them at a level you can handle. When you click on the “trends” button, you’ll see a list of your subscriptions, information on which subscriptions are the most active, and which ones you’re reading. If you find there are some you’re just not reading, or others that haven’t been updated in awhile, and you’re trying to cut back, you might consider unsubscribing from those. (You can also see how many people subscribe to each blog.)

9. Consolidate all of your feeds through Google Reader

Do you follow your friend’s photostreams on Flickr? Hot topics? News updates? By subscribing to these through Google Reader, you can consolidate everything in one place.

So there you have it. I find Google Reader a valuable resource that helps me to stay organized and save time. I urge you to check it out. And if you have thoughts on Google Reader, please send me a comment.

Photo credit: lunawhimsy


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